Engraving dies now only take 12 hours to produce instead of 500.
A success story with Worcestershire Medal Service Ltd. (Bromsgrove, GB).
It is a dream come true, to cut the order throughput time from around 21 days to 12 hours. Only three years ago, Phil McDermott, Managing Director of the Worcestershire Medal Service Ltd. (Bromsgrove, GB), would not have believed this to be possible. Today, it is now possible, literally overnight, to manufacture a new production die for medals, decorations or honorary awards for our customers.
This dream became reality by pure chance. On a daily basis, the ACSYS laser technology salesman for the United Kingdom drove past the window display of Worcestershire Medal Service, a company that produces Orders, Decorations and Medals. In the early part of 2014, Phil McDermott was on the lookout for a replacement for his 15-year old milling machine. Which was when the ACSYS salesman dropped into the shop to introduce his own company, a German manufacturer of laser machining centres. Initially, Phil McDermott was fairly surprised by the amount he would have to invest in order to own a laser system of that kind. Also, neither he nor his employees had any experience whatsoever in laser technology.
Experiencing true customer closeness
To overcome this hurdle, the ACSYS salesman arranged an on-site appointment at which he demonstrated the principle of 3D laser engraving in detail, and went on to explain the possibilities of laser material machining. The most compelling argument was the speed at which the laser system operates. Since the UK subsidiary of ACSYS was able to produce various demonstration items overnight, Phil McDermott was won over pretty rapidly: “Key factors in our purchasing decision were the superlative technology, the outstanding quality, the saving in time and the convenient local presence of ACSYS”. The UK subsidiary of ACSYS is located in Bromsgrove.
Charity project tackled on a joint basis
Before the sale of its first laser system to Worcestershire Medal Service, ACSYS UK helped them to arrange a big charity project at which the dies for the Waterloo 200-year memorial coin was manufactured predominantly by ACSYS, in a very short period of time and to a very high standard of quality. This was the perfect occasion to put the system to the test. When the coin manufacturer purchased its PIRANHA in 2014, it was then able to meet the wishes of its customers very quickly indeed. Phil McDermott gets really enthused when he recalls that time: “With the laser, we were suddenly able to complete projects overnight”.
A great boost for the image of a company with such a strong tradition. Worcestershire Medal Service produces many different Orders, Decorations and medals for UK government clients, for the Royal Household and for the military. The quality of these decorations is also appreciated greatly by customers from around the world, in the Commonwealth as well as in other countries. “Moreover, we can also use the laser to scribe and mark finished products”, stated Phil McDermott. “That can include sequential numbering, very fine engraving or also very deep engraving”.
More than simply a saving in time
ACSYS laser systems like the PIRANHA offer many advantages over the traditional die manufacturing process which employs CNC milling machines. The ACSYS 3D scanner makes it possible to digitise oversize hand-made models for further processing on the computer, but it is also no problem to record and digitise data from coins. The stored data are reproduced using the 3D laser engraving process. Also, the laser beam can be used to engrave directly into the hardened steel of the coining tool.
This dispenses with conventional milling operations such as tool changing, subsequent reversal of cutters and hardening and most importantly the hand finishing associated with traditional milling. This substantially reduces the amount of work involved. Frosting also becomes child’s play with a high-resolution dual camera system on the laser system. After precise partial definition of the areas to be frosted on the computer screen, the laser beam applies different frosting structures to the coining stamp, precise to within a few microns.
Phil McDermott emphasizes: “We can now offer our products much more cost effectively. The amortization period for the first laser system was meant to be five years, but the system paid for itself within one year”. Other great advantages of the laser system are that it is simple to program, and it is able to process orders automatically. “ACSYS training courses with Artcam and the AC laser hardware and software prepared us perfectly for our daily work with the laser system, with relevant applications and delivered to a very professional standard”, recalls Phil McDermott. Over Christmas 2016, the laser system was running several orders for coining tools in autonomous, standalone fashion during the vacation period.
Worcestershire Medal Service is now working with its second PIRANHA laser system, in service since 2017. “We have now received many more orders simply because we can respond so rapidly”, states Phil McDermott, a man very satisfied indeed with his investment decision. “It has fundamentally changed what we are able to do. At present, we are creating two pairs of coining stamps per day”. For next year, we are currently considering the purchase of several OYSTER laser systems for coin edge engraving.
Laser systems for coin manufacture
The laser is able to engrave directly hardened material. This dispenses with the need for additional cutter reversals and the time-consuming rework of dies.
Advantages of the laser
- Laser as a tool, so no tool wear.
- Hundred-percent reproducibility.
- Customisation through digitisation.
- Automatic production.
ACSYS Lasertechnik GmbH (Kornwestheim) is an engineering and manufacturing company for high-precision laser machining centres used in various production and assembly operations such as lettering, engraving, cutting and micro-structuring. Based on production requirements and the level of automation involved, the ACSYS team works closely with each customer to develop laser machining centres in the Engineering & Production Centre at ACSYS. The specification of each system can be fine-tuned to reflect parameters such as speed, precision, batch size, flexibility and setup time. In addition, the hardware and software provided by ACSYS equips each customer with a fully-capable machine concept built to a first-class quality standard. To achieve this, development engineers at ACSYS test workpieces, materials and production operations in their in-house test laboratory. Based on these test results, one of the existing standard machines is then equipped with an appropriate laser source to suit the specific needs of a given customer.